There must be no reversing of the latest easing of lockdown, this has to be it - Mark Casci

Yesterday was something of a novelty for me in that I conducted my first face-to-face interview since August of last year.

It marked the first time I had properly been a city centre for months (Leeds in case you are interested) and the first time I had been in another building that was not either my house or a retail establishment since before Christmas.

Being able to do my job without utilising video calling was an unexpected joy and something I was keen to experience as soon as Government guidance permitted, although being a true professional I eschewed the opportunity for a hug.

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It came off the back of a few weeks of feeling more optimistic about the immediate future than I had done for some time.

Tourists in York Minister following the latest round of unlocking.

Business leaders to whom I have spoken with had told me of their increasing confidence. More and more deals are being confirmed and virtually each passing day brings news of more investment and more job creation.

I had watched a fantastic FA Cup Final, made special by the incredible atmosphere created by the fans within Wembley Stadium.

Plus we finally have a metro mayor in West Yorkshire to go with the one in the Sheffield City Region.

However, on the day when vast swathes of the economy were being unlocked by positivity began to be tempered with realism.

Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden tours the Tate Modern gallery in London.

As I walked back to my car (I normally would have cycled but the weather was appalling and I wanted to maintain the option of a hug were the mood to make it acceptable) the reality of the impact of the past few months on our city centres was becoming clear.

While the Majestic building looked resplendent, it was just a couple of streets away from many boarded up shops, cafes, bars and restaurants for whom months of enforced closure had understandably proven too much for them to continue.

As I drove home to begin my day’s work in earnest the London-based media on the radio was predictably home to the views of a handful of scientists who were full of foreboding warnings that we were unlocking too quickly and that a cautious approach was needed in the face of the Indian variant.

I am no scientist and do not deign to question their views or even criticise them.

But I do also know that these views are not supported by the majority of those in the scientific community currently advising Government policy.

Giving them such prominence on a day in which thousands upon thousands of businesses, who have been on their knees for months, could finally get back to earning a living, felt at best uncharitable.

In order to reopen, those businesses who can reopen this week (hospitality indoors, hotels, museums, cinemas, soft play etc) need to conform to strict Covid-safe rules, all of which will have added substantially to their expenses at a time when cash for investment is at an extraordinary shortage.

At the time of me writing this the majority of the country has received a first dose under the vaccination programme with virtually everyone in the priority groups having received two doses.

While no vaccine is 100 per cent effective the chances of widespread levels of serious illness and hospitalisations are now significantly lower than seen last summer during the last grand reopening.

Caution still should be exercised and anyone thinking that the crisis has now passed us by and that normal life should resume in full is kidding themselves.

But the livelihoods of so many people, most of them young and without the financial security that advancing age tends to facilitate, need their social lives and livelihoods to return.

We all know that the Government has made numerous blunders in the course of the pandemic but I truly believe that this latest unlocking should go ahead.

We cannot afford another lockdown under any circumstances and there will always be risks to be considered.

Plus it is worth bearing in mind this is not compulsory. If you don’t fancy the pub, don’t go, but at least leave the door open for those who do.